Music has often played a key role in social activism, especially in times of conflict or crisis. Artists have raised their pens and their voices high in hopes of bridging the gap on what appears to be a vast, fragmented landscape. With Johnnie Mikel’s forthcoming album, Purgatory, he adds his creative fuel to the collective of progressive voices organizing for change.
A narrative of intersections in art and culture, Purgatory, produced by James Michael (Mötley Crüe, Alanis Morissette, Kelly Clarkson) addresses topics like mental health in the music industry, the effects of social media on youth, human rights, and disillusionment in love and politics. The deeply confessional lyrics reverberate the times with a fierce hope for a better tomorrow. Sonically the album begs not to be pigeonholed. With alternative pop leanings, it beguiles the listener with influences ranging from Bowie to Gaga to The 1975 and Walk the Moon. “My favorite artists and biggest influences are the groundbreaking ones with a message. I love artists that feel like an enigma, because they are multi-faceted and always evolving,” says Mikel.
Mikel was born and spent his early childhood in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He cultivated a love for the art of storytelling and popular music in his earliest days. “As a child, I didn’t know many people who had the same interests. I felt very much an artist and an idealist but didn’t know how to claim that identity in the place I was living.” When an unexpected family move landed Mikel in New York City at age 11, he began to see a world where individuality was celebrated and encouraged. “The immediate exposure to an influx of art, music, and fashion quickly taught me that being yourself is a positive thing.”
With the city scape as a backdrop to shape his worldview, Mikel began further honing his craft as a songwriter, working alongside industry heavyweights like Tommy Lee, Lauren Christy, Lindy Robbins, and Nash Overstreet and traveling between NY, LA and Nashville where he opened for Charlie Daniels, Little River Band, and Josh Turner.
Mikel created the “One Word Foundation” in 2016 after penning his song, “One” (included on Purgatory) which is inspired by the idea that one word, choice or chance can change the course of a life. Through the foundation, Mikel has teamed up with various charities and Boys and Girls Clubs across the country in order to benefit those in need. Mikel is currently studying Political Science and Economics at Western Kentucky University to further merge his artistic message with his activism. “I’ve come to realize that being creative is the core of my identity. No matter what I’m working on, whether it’s music, design, or something in the political space, I’m always approaching it from a creative lens. I once heard someone say that their spirit would not let them do anything else, and that is exactly how I feel.”
Purgatory is set to release on February 3, 2023.
MEDIA BASE CHARTS:
Independent Artist Chart: #2 (8/10/20)
“Come With Me”: #60 (12/18/17)
“Friday Night”: #67 (4/30/18)
"Nothing to Lose": #58 (8/10/20)
“Friday Night” – Billboard Dance Chart
Peak Position: #11 (7/16/18)
Peak Monthly Listeners: 140,000+
Total Combined Streams To Date: 2,400,000+